Help me decide on parts for my HTPC

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Mike Boniferro, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. Mike Boniferro

    Mike Boniferro Second Unit

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    Hey everyone, very soon I am going to start building an HTPC. I will be using it as a DVD player/recorder, to play DVD's ripped from my collection, music server and pictures. I would like to keep the possiblity of gaming open as well, although I probably won't use it much for this.

    My display with be the Infocus 4805. I am considering possibly running a cable upstairs to a TV in the living room (will be either a plasma or LCD), or just using a media extender for that.

    The system will be based around an Intel Pentium D 820 chip and Intel D945PSN board.

    I am likely going to start with 1 GB DDR2 ram, but possibly just go for 2GB right from the beginning.

    I assume I'm going to want a SATA drive for it's speed... any recommendations on brands that are not too loud?

    Also for cooling... will I just be going with a basic fan or should look for another alternative?

    One of the big questions is going to be which type video card to go with and what the optimal connection to the 4805 and plasma/lcd would be?

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    A popular video card is the NVIDIA 6600GT. Others use ATI x800 cards. Either should be fine - especially considering the low resolution of the 4805. Typically people would use DVI to send pixel-perfect video to the projector.
     
  3. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Echoing Max, a 6600GT and DVI would be perfect. Consider getting the NVDVD codec which unlocks some neat deinterlacing methods if you have a 6x00+ series card. I use Zoom Player Pro + NVDVD (6800gt) with VMR Pixel Adaptive deinterlacing to a 4805 and it looks great. If you get the itch to tweak you can throw FFDSHOW in the mix to subtly blur out artifacts, and then sharpen.

    Don't think you'd need 2gb of ram at all. Use that money to focus on big ass harddrives instead. I like Seagates, especially now that they offer a 5yr warranty. The latest generation can be noisy when they write but reading is noise-free.

    Look at a Thermaltake or Zalman CPU coolers if you want quiet. As an Intel user I have to admit AMD is the better choice for an HTPC now, they use less energy, produce less heat, and finally (with the 3800+ X2) can encode video faster at the same pricepoint.
     
  4. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    I second the recommendation for Seagate SATA drives. I've got 2 in my latest build and they've been great.

    Two things you haven't addressed: power supply and case.

    Don't skimp here. These are both vital (PSU for reliability, case for noise control).

    I've got the Antec Sonata case that came with a good PSU. If I had a silent CPU cooler like Scott mentioned the case would be almost silent -- although it does have bright blue LED's which could be disturbing in an HT.

    www.endpcnoise.com is a good resource for quiet stuff (PSU, CPU cooler, fans, cases, etc). I would purchase most everything else from NewEgg because of their prices and quick shipment standards.
     
  5. Chris Dias

    Chris Dias Stunt Coordinator

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    I've got the same case and I recently disconnected the blue LEDs becaause they were annoying. Nice case though.
     
  6. Mike Boniferro

    Mike Boniferro Second Unit

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    Only about a week from starting the build now.

    The reason for the Intel products is that I have an opportunity to pick up this board and chip EXTREMELY cheap right now, so I just have to go for it.

    The only Seagate SATA drives I can find are 8mb cache. I notice that the Maxtor and Western Digitals in the same price points (looking around 250gb) are both 16mb cache. Should this be a consideration?

    I am thinking that the 6600gt looks like the best bang for your buck video card... only thing is that I notice it's only a 128mb card. Will this be an issue at all? To get 256 it looks like I would need to go to the 6800 or us an x800 card (but I've just heard much better things about the nvidia drivers).

    These are the last 2 things that I have yet to purchase.

    Thanks!
     
  7. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    SATA doesn't really offer any speed advantages over IDE but if they aren't far apart in price I'd go with SATA for other reasons. 10000prm Raptor drives might be overkill for your system.

    What you should also think about is your controls. RF remote? Wireless controls? You will need to budget a decent amount here, otherwise you will be disappointed.

    DVI cable upstairs might get expensive, depending on how long the distance is. Controlling the PC from upstairs would make the RF remote a must.
     
  8. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    It should be a consideration, but I usually am more worried about the average seek time than the buffer. 8MB is a very good buffer size -- although 16MB is obviously better. As I said, I have two of the Seagate drives with 8MB buffers and have had no problems at all.
     
  9. Mike Boniferro

    Mike Boniferro Second Unit

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    I am going to play with a few different interfaces before committing to one type of control.

    Ultimately, the IR Microsoft keyboard with built on mouse capabilities would probably be the best option, but it apparently only works with MCE.

    I was planning on using Meedio, and have ordered a copy of that. If I really don't like it, I'll go to MCE and use that option.

    Otherwise I may try to get my Harmony to work using the directional arrows and then have a wireless keyboard for when that is necessary.

    The upstairs TV connection is not 100% necessary right now... I'm just wanting to keep my options open. If I could find a media extender that would stream ripped DVDs, I would use that... but right now that looks a little unlikely given what I've seen.


    As for the SATA drives... there is very little difference in price, so even something as small as keeping better airflow by having less huge IDE cables inside the case makes it worthwhile to use them.

    Thanks for the advice on looking at seek times... I'll dig into those #'s on the drives I've found good pricing on!
    And no, I don't think I'll need 10k RPM [​IMG]
     
  10. Sami Kallio

    Sami Kallio Screenwriter

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    Whatever wireless control options you get, make sure the range is going to be enough AND you actually get that range. A lot of the wireless keyboard/mouse combos are not good enough. I would still go with a RF remote, this will give you more options in the future (like keeping the computer as a central music jukebox that you can control all over the house, which is one my planned features).
     
  11. Mike Boniferro

    Mike Boniferro Second Unit

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    Do you have any specific opinions on the RF remote? Also, will such a remote come with a receiver that plugs into a PC, or is that an extra accessory?

    Thanks
     
  12. Mike Boniferro

    Mike Boniferro Second Unit

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    Any suggestions on which remote to go for?

    I built it all successfully yesterday.. now just need the remote/keyboard and an M1-DVI connector for my projector!

    This thing really flies!
     
  13. Chris Lanni

    Chris Lanni Stunt Coordinator

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    Congrats on the finished build. How aboot some pics and a final detailed listing of all parts used.

    Gods Love
    chris
     
  14. David Andrews

    David Andrews Auditioning

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    I've been using the Gyration MCE remote and K/B for about 3months now, and I love it. R/F 1oo' range. intended for use with XP MCE 2005
     
  15. Mike Boniferro

    Mike Boniferro Second Unit

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    Wow that looks pretty cool.

    Does it come with the RF receiver to hook into the computer? Does it work with Meedio/zoomplayer or TT and all those other non-MCE apps?

    thanks!


    I'll also post pics and final parts list once everything is up and running smoothly with my PJ. I played a movie on the comp monitor through vga and had audio going out through the optical out and there was no stuttering at all and everything looked great! Hopefully it works as well once it's running through the PJ and all of the proper programs are powering it [​IMG]
     
  16. Mike Boniferro

    Mike Boniferro Second Unit

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    Still have to get some pics and screen shots together.

    The final equipment list :

    Intel Petium D 820 Chip and model 945 board
    BFG Geforce 6600GT Video card
    LG Dual layer DVD/CD writer
    Maxtor 250GB SATA HD
    Dynex 5.1 sound card (only reasonable one I could find with optical out --- works incredibly well!!)
    400W power supply
    Lots of cooling including HDD cooler

    I ended up going with the RF Snapstream Firefly remote. Seems to work extremely well and fits my needs. I just need to find a wireless keyboard now.

    So far everything is looking and sounding great.... next is getting ffdshow set up!
     

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